This weekend offers legends of various varieties. From medieval folklore to modern romance, these films are wrapped in the luster of myth. Let me pull back the curtain and give you a peek at this week’s tall tales: A modern girl responds to a letter meant for Juliet (of the Romeo variety), a professional athlete falls for his physical trainer, and Britain’s most famous archer gets another American reboot in Robin Hood (Rotten Tomatoes – Metacritic).
“As a panel in the output of versatile helmer Scott, this prequel is detail-oriented and well-acted but too serious, grim and verbose, posited between Kingdom of Heaven (a flop) and Gladiator, which while not great, was easier and more pleasurable to watch.” Emanuel Levy EmanuelLevy.Com
A famous hero, known for wearing tights, has become too serious? I guess there won’t be merry men till the sequel.
“Scott has an eye — and it’s a very good one — for sieges of castles, charging horsemen, hand-to-hand combat, glistening swords arcing through the air and deadly arrows whistling toward helpless targets.” The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt
“Grown-up but not too serious; action-packed but not juvenile… Not only is this the mullet-free Robin Hood movie we’ve been waiting decades for, it’s also Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe at their most entertaining since Gladiator.” Empire Dan Jolin
“The entire cast is superb. Crowe’s an ideal Robin Hood-born to play the role-he’s fully in command but human to the core. He owns it.” Boxoffice Magazine Pete Hammond
“Still impressive sets and stunts have kept this from getting stale.” Dan Lybarger Nitrate Online
“One of the great silent adventure films…and one of Doug’s best.” Steve Crum Kansas City Kansan
“If prankish Fairbanks was a man’s Robin Hood, handsome, romantic Flynn performs for everybody else.” TIME Magazine
“The archetypal Hollywood swashbuckler… everything big-screen derring-do should be: rousing, lighthearted, witty, romantic, colorful, moralistic, and richly satisfying… [Flynn is] the quintessential Robin Hood, jaunty, dashing, and fearless.” Steven D. Greydanus Decent Films Guide
Being the prototypical archetype of an iconic legend means:
“Movies like this are beyond criticism.” Don Druker Chicago Reader
“Compared with modern Disney films, which are dominated by the self-absorption and eventual self-discovery of their main characters, Robin Hood offers surprisingly stark and interesting social questions.” Michael Booth Denver Post
“Blatantly caters to a juvenile audience, without making even the slightest attempt to entertain the grown-ups unless it happens that they like Saturday morning cartoon-level hijinks.” Tim Brayton Antagony & Ecstasy
They know just how to get me.
“Foxes with bows and arrows. What could be better than that?” Ian Nathan Empire Magazine
“Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood is a Robin of wood.” Variety
If you add ‘the’ after ‘of’ it becomes a statement instead of an insult.
“Laughably bad. No threat to Errol Flynn.” Ken Hanke Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Fair enough, but Prince Of Thieves (POT?) is in the running for best sidekick and villain.
“If not for Rickman and Freeman, this would be nigh unwatchable.” Widgett Walls Needcoffee.com
Don’t forget Christian Slater (he was both sidekick and villain)!
“…the film is so broadly characterized by melodramatics and overacting, it made ripe pickings for Mel Brooks two years later with his parody.” John J. Puccio DVDTown.com
Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but it’s also an easy way to cash in on a popular idea. Consider the Scream (the original horror farce) and Scary Movie franchises (the farces of farce) – which set of cash cow utters dried up first? And while you’re thinking about that, think about manly men roaming around the forest looking for fights: Robin Hood: Men In Tights (1994 – Rotten Tomatoes).
“Grade B Mel Brooks has some zany moments.” Steve Crum Video-Reviewmaster.com
Grade B huh? Is that based on a sliding scale, where Mel’s best is an A, or personal preference, where Steve Crum’s favorite movie is an A? I want clarification because the next two reviews clash like headbutting mountain goats:
“This is one of the best musicals of the 1990s and one of Brooks’ very best.” Eric Lurio Greenwich Village Gazette
“Quite possibly the worst film I have ever seen (and yes, I’ve seen “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”).” David N. Butterworth rec.arts.movies.reviews
Ah, but have you seen the foolish and inferior sequel Tomb Raider 2 – The Cradle of Life? I ask because it’s so terrible, it makes Men In Tights, look like Tomb Raider 1.
“It is true, the legend had it coming, but this bad?” James Brundage Filmcritic.com
And that sour note concludes the roundup of Robin Hood’s film exploits. It took 16 years for the last film incarnation to become stale in the minds of producers, which was the same length of time it took for Freddy Kreuger to get a reboot. And our next film is no stranger to borrowing old ideas as The Bard’s tale of star-crossed lovers sets the stage for a modern romance in Letters to Juliet (Rotten Tomatoes – Metacritic).
“What light through yonder window breaks? ‘Tis the fiery wrath of William Shakespeare, dragged back to this mortal coil to lend his cred to a dreadful chick flick.” Joe Williams St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till someone makes another bland cash-in on Shakespeare’s famous romantic tragedy.
“Gary Winick’s flat direction does the material no favors: If Egan and Seyfried have any chemistry, it’s framed out of their awkwardly staged climactic kisses.” Karina Longworth Village Voice
“By the time we have adjusted to all that European summer sunlight streaming through Seyfried’s silky hair, the film is already well on the road to Fluffsville.” Leigh Paatsch Courier Mail (Australia)
Fluffsville sounds like a fictional town in a porn movie.
“The double romantic payoff is beautifully directed and performed; it’s not just what but how it’s done in this satisfying escapist romance aimed at women, young or old.” Andrew L. Urban Urban Cinefile
And now there’s a double payoff? Yeah, once you put the dirty glasses, everything looks naughty. Speaking of which, hit the hardwood and give a full court press, but be sure to do it Just Wright (Rotten Tomatoes – Metacritic).
“Unfortunately, in Queen Latifah’s first straight romance, the feisty side of her personality has been benched.” Annlee Ellingson Moving Pictures Magazine
Maybe the feisty attitude was the sixth man waiting to be put into the game at a crucial moment, but the coach didn’t bother.
“With his forced smile and willowy cadence, Common plays basketball star Scott McKnight as if he’s a newly lobotomized serial killer – and that’s when his character is supposed to be happy.” Justin Strout Orlando Weekly
Forget the coach, go get a bodyguard.
“Painting by numbers often gets a bad rap: While it takes little originality to fill in the romantic-comedy blanks, even a simple, competent job can sometimes feel like a breath of fresh air.” Andrew Barker Variety
If people used movie reviews the way lawyers use the law, then this review sets a precedent for formula being original.